Tartine (West Village): French Brunch/Lunch

Tartine

  • Why it’s worth it: This corner-store sized, charmingly petite cafe serves simple, delicious and inexpensive French fare, not to mention the best croque madame we’ve ever had (and yes we’ve been to France). You’ll know Tartine by the green awning, sidewalk tables and notoriously long lines on the weekends.
  • Vibe/Layout: Tartine has all of about 15 seats and has been in the neighborhood for two decades, making it a cozy and homey go-to spot. Don’t expect much leg room though, especially if you score a table on the sidewalk.
  • Ideal meal: Croque madame ($14) or croque monsieur ($14)
  • When to go: If you have a random day off from work, or work in the area, head to Tartine for lunch or for a darling croissant.
  • ‘Straunt tip: BYOB alert! … But it gets better….there’s no corkage fee either!
  • Address: West Village, 253 West 11th St (corner of West 4th St)
  • Prices: $8-$25

Tartine on Urbanspoon

Pappardella (UWS): Mangia Monday

Pappardella

  • Why it’s worth it: If you’re craving Italian on the UWS, Pappardella is a great, consistent, classy, family spot. I’m not usually an eggplant gal, but Pappardella’s eggplant was melt-in-your-mouth delicious!
  • Vibe/Layout: This open and charming ‘straunt features twenty-foot ceilings, French doors and a beautiful mural of Florence. White table cloths and wooden chairs are only background details to the fresh homemade pasta that will blind side you.
  • Ideal meal: Melanzane parmigiano (eggplant parm, $13) to start & gnocchi pesto ($19)
  • ‘Straunt tip: Pappardella is a great dinner option after taking a stroll in Central Park or checking out the Natural History Museum. They also have great GF options!
  • Address: Upper West Side, 316 Columbus Ave (75th St)
  • Prices: $7-$26

Pappardella on Urbanspoon

Jack’s Wife Freda (Soho)

Jack's Wife Freda

  • Why it’s worth it: Trust us. Jack’s Wife Freda is worth the wait. We’d agree with NY Magazine who dubbed the food “South African Israeli Jewish Grandmother Cuisine.” Helpful right? But after reading about the owners, you’ll understand why.
  • Vibe/layout: This quaint 40-seat restaurant rocks dark-green leather banquettes, marble counters and wooden tables. This is not a quiet, little date spot; this a fun-loving brunch and dinner spot for the young, the old, the trendy and the free-spirited…aka all people. The food is homey, delicious and satisfying.
  • Ideal meal: Fried zucchini chips ($8) to share & Madame Freda ($13) (pressed sandwich with duck prosciutto, cheddar bechamel, gruyere & a fried egg)
  • The people behind the ‘straunt: Before Dean Jankelowitz and his wife, Maya met working at Keith McNally’s Balthazar, they both emigrated from South Africa and Israel, respectively. Together, they’ve created an amazing restaurant that is named after Dean’s grandparents, Jack and Freda. (FYI- Man Repeller, a popular fashion blog,  did an amazing piece on their fantastic love story. If you haven’t had time to check out this ‘straunt yet, then read this and fall in love with the owners first.)
  • Address: Soho, 224 Lafayette St (between Broome & Spring)
  • Prices: $5-$25

Jack's Wife Freda on Urbanspoon

The Meatball Shop: Mangia Monday

When you’re looking for an apartment in NYC, make sure you not only check the distance to the nearest subway, but also to the nearest Meatball Shop. We’re serious.

The Meatball Shop

  • Why it’s worth it: You know those times you just really crave balls. Get your mind out of the gutter – I’m not talking about R-rated balls, just some tender, sauce lathered meatballs, over some delicious pasta and topped with shaved parmesan. The Meatball Shop is our go-to spot with visitors and friends… because there are options for everyone.
  • Vibe/layout: This ‘straunt, no matter the location, is trendy and dimly lit, bumping hip hop through the speakers, serving homemade ice cream sandwiches and creating masterpiece meatballs.
  • Ideal meal/”The Usual”: 4 chicken balls with classic tomato sauce ($8) over rigatoni ($5) with family jewels (fried egg; $1) and a chicken pesto meatball slider ($3)
  • F.Y.I.: This ‘straunt neither takes reservations nor delivers… it’s that good.
  • Addresses:
  •  Prices: $5-$11 per item

North River Lobster Company (Hell’s Kitchen)

Yes, we have to ditch our white pants… and yes, we have to store our summer shoes… but, no, we do not have to stop enjoying the beautiful weather, just because it’s past Labor Day! Therefore, we’ve got your fall denying days covered with this waterfront spot… that actually leaves the dock: North River Lobster Company.

North River Lobster Company

  • Why it’s worth it: Not only does this place serve amazing seafood/drinks, but this floating lobster shack also sets sail on the Hudson for a half hour every two hours (fo’ free!), so be sure to check the sail schedule before you plan your visit so you don’t get left ashore.
  • Vibe/layout: Board the boat and you’ll find numerous seating situations, both indoor and outdoor. There are three decks, but head immediately to the top one for the outdoor action. There’s no wait service, so be sure to stake your claim for some open-air seating, and then find a counter to order from. You will receive a buoy with your order number on it and your food will be delivered in a matter of minutes!
  • Ideal meal: Pitcher of sangria ($34), lobster roll ($18), fries ($5)
  • The inspiration: New York Cruise Lines, Inc. CEO, Sam Cooperman, says he was inspired by two things: history and a lasting memory of Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco. The self-proclaimed “history buff” says he became fascinated by the lobster palace craze of the early 1900s, in which grand and ornate restaurants dotted 42nd St and served lobster as the main fare, as it was the most important food of the social time.
  • Straunt tip: Grab lunch or a drink at North River and then grab dessert (a funfettti cookie) at Schmackary’s.
  • Address: Hell’s Kitchen, Pier 81, 41st St and 12th Ave
  • Prices: $5-$29

North River Lobster Company on Urbanspoon

Manducatis (LIC): Mangia Monday

Manducatis LIC

  • Why it’s worth it: From the outside, Manducatis doesn’t even look like a restaurant, but as you will learn, you don’t go here for a trendy or romantic vibe; you go here for the pasta and the history.
  • Vibe/layout: The front room contains a bar and looks more like a rec room with a bunch of boxes than a restaurant; however, the rest of this ‘straunt feels like one big living room, complete with lace curtains, houseplants and a wood-burning fireplace. This ‘straunt has been hosting curators, sculptors and painters from P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center for over 30 years. Usually a place would frame photos of famous/favorite customers on the wall; however, in Manducatis’ case, the reverse happened: P.S. 1 exhibited 11 candid black-and-white photographs of the Cerbone couple taken by Howard Gross.
  • Ideal meal: Ricotta gnocchi with pesto or red sauce and mozzarella ($18)
  • The story:  Operated since 1977 and owned by Italian immigrants, Vincenzo and Ida Cerbone and now their son, Anthony, Manducatis is as unique as it gets. Ida, the cook, learned her skills in Italy and makes her gnocchi with ricotta, not potato. The food comes out on large plates that bear the black-and-white childhood photograph of chef and co-owner, Ida. When the Cerbones got married, Vincenzo had the plates made, so customers are essentially eating off of the Cerbones’ wedding dishes. Talk about a personal touch.
  • ‘Straunt tip: Check out a Moma PS1 Warm Up party, then head to Manducatis for a bite to eat and then to Dutch Kills, the speakeasy down the street, for a drink.
  • Address: Long Island City, 13-27 Jackson Ave (47th & Jackson)
  • Prices: $18

Manducatis on Urbanspoon

Mulberry Project (Little Italy): Speakeasy

Mulberry Project Little Italy Speakeasy

  • Getting in: On a strip of Little Italy mostly known for its red-sauce Italian ‘straunts and cannoli vendors, The Mulberry Project hides from sight, behind a recessed red door below street level. Reservations for the backyard are recommended and on weekends a doorman will stand outside past 10pm.
  • Vibe/layout: This speakeasy is stylish without being pretentious. The interior is small, long and narrow with a few choice black leather booths along one wall and bright red metal bar stools at the bar. The bright crimson mural created by Kurtis Kulig (aka LoveMe at the Ace Hotel) highlights the speakeasy’s focal point, the bar, transforming it into a “stage” for cocktail craftsmanship. The dim lighting and color scheme, along with the industrial lamps dangling from the low ceiling, illuminate the energy and focus of this speakeasy: cocktails. In the summer, the back graffiti-decorated garden and patio is open (and is AMAZING).
  • Drinks: Order a custom-crafted cocktail. Period. I chose the ingredients of my drink from the chalkboard menu, my poison, desired flavors (sweet, spicy, sour, etc) and a selection of fresh fruit, et voila! My vodka-based mango cocktail with a bit of fizz was delicious! The combinations will vary from day-to-day and bartender to bartender, but the cocktails are all beautifully executed.
  • F.Y.I.: A collection of nightlife all-stars (Milk & Honey, Boom Boom Room, Surf Lodge, Bagatelle, RdV) reinvented their cocktails, menu and decor with this speakeasy.
  • Address: Little Italy, 149 Mulberry St (Mulberry & Grand)
  • Prices: Cocktails are around $15

The Mulberry Project on Urbanspoon

Chop-Shop (Chelsea)

Chop-Shop

  • Why it’s worth it: Chop-Shop, a Chinese/Southeast Asian restaurant, is a hidden gem in Chelsea, that is perfect for an early evening, post-gallery or pre-sunset on the High Line.
  • Vibe/layout: The decor of the cozy indoor portion of this ‘straunt is minimalist white, with the vibe low-key and inviting. The back of this ‘straunt opens up into an intimate garden patio with fairy string lights wrapped around tree branches (perfect for a date or gathering with close friends).
  • Ideal meal: Pan fried pork dumplings ($8) & spicy drunken noodle ($14)
  • F.Y.I.: This ‘straunt is unique such that there are no “starters” or “entrees;” there is just a list of dishes and their prices, all of which are amazing.
  • ‘Straunt tip: Check out the Kobra mural on 25th & 10th and then head to Chop-Shop for a delicious dinner!
  • Address: Chelsea, 254 10th Ave (corner of 25th St)
  • Prices: $7-$16

Chop-Shop on Urbanspoon

Freemans (LES): Brunch

Freemans

  • Why it’s worth it: Freemans is a cute brunch spot hidden at the end of an alley, serving up homey food in a cozy and unique atmosphere. If you’re looking for a spot to take a party larger than 6, look no further.
  • Vibe/layout: This spacious ‘straunt has two cocktail bars and plenty of seating, but is a collection of intimate smaller rooms with taxidermy, artfully nicked floors and fairy string lights. All of these accessories set the tone for this ‘straunt’s rustic homey feel.
  • Ideal meal: Any/all of the following: Hot artichoke dip with crisp bread ($13), bacon, fried egg & cheddar cheese on a buttermilk biscuit ($11) or five cheese macaroni ($14)
  • Address: LES, 191 Chrystie St (at the end of Freeman’s Alley)
  • Price: $6-$14

Freemans on Urbanspoon

Rosemary’s (West Village): Mangia Monday

rosemary's

  • Why it’s worth it: Rosemary’s is perfect for catching up with friends and/or family. This ‘straunt takes pride in its rooftop garden, which sources many of its fresh ingredients featured on the menu, and its chef, Wade Moises, who studied under Mario Batali (at Babbo and Lupa).
  • Vibe/Layout: This barn-like ‘straunt boasts a large open floor plan packed with rustic tables, industrial bulb chandeliers, greenery and oversized windows. Festive strings of lights dangle from the exposed rafters and give this ‘straunt it’s airy, tasteful and modern decor. The ‘straunt has a large bar area in the back and is scattered with communal tables and circular dining tables in the front.
  • Ideal Meal: Bucatini pesto rosso ($13)
  • Straunt tip: Grab a bite to eat here and then head to Big Gay Ice Cream down the block for some amazing ice cream.
  • F.Y.I.: Rosemary’s is named after the owner’s, Carlos Suarez’s (also owner of Bobo), mother. The ‘straunt is outfitted in mirror frames built from vintage farm equipment, tabletops constructed from the floors of an old bicycle factory and lanterns rescued from a municipal building in France.
  • Address: West Village, 18 Greenwich Ave (W 10th St)
  • Prices: $6-$26

Rosemary's on Urbanspoon